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Souq Middle Eastern Boutique and Arabic Cafe
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Souq Middle Eastern Boutique and Arabic Cafe
57-59 South Clerk Street,
City of Edinburgh,
0131 667 6601
Sun/Mon/Tues/Weds 10am-6pm Thur/Fri/Sat 10am-10pm

Whenever someone asks me what my favourite meal of all time was of course I can’t answer. However, I do quote a memorable one. 

Mussels scooped from a tin with ready salted crisps. Yep! I was in the foothills of the Atlas Mountains Morocco, and this impromptu roadside picnic was Christmas lunch. I peered into the valley below and watched a Berber woman creep along a mountain track, bent double by a large bundle of firewood. It could have been a scene from a thousand years ago yet we were just an hour from modern Marrakech. 

I love Morocco so when I heard about Souq the Arabic café from Lisa and Jamal who run the Middle Eastern restaurants Pomegranate, Hanam’s, and Laila’s I sped along to Newington. 

Jamal, it transpires, has been making regular trips to North Africa and the shop is full of tealight holders, lamps, leather slippers, colourful ceramics, scarves and jewellery. They reflect the colours of the Red City, azure, aquamarine, ochre, rose, amethyst. 

Souq have a prosecco and shopping evening on a Thursday so Lea and me enjoyed bubbles, browsed and then headed downstairs to the café come restaurant. 

A previous quick lunch of flatbread with diced and mixed fresh and pickled veg had been joyfully devoured earlier in the week. Tonight we ordered a trio of dips from the mezze menu followed by chicken and lamb tagines. The freshness of the baba ganoush was standout but we were really here for the theatrical main act. 

Preserved lemons, saffron, handfuls of herbs and spices, these are the ingredients that give tagines their   distinct fragrant character whilst it is the slow cooking of the meat and vegetables that make them so moreish (pun intended). Jamal later revealed he wants to introduce charcoal tagines as ideally the stews should be cooked over coals.

Lea had chicken and I had lamb with prunes. Cubes of potatoes, olives and a melange of various veg were scooped up from the earthenware vessels with fluffy bread, perfect to soak up all the juices. I had another glass of bubbles. Souq is dry but you are welcome to take your own alcohol. Along with a very reasonably priced menu (tagines are only £9-£11) this makes this eatery a very affordable night out.

You can finish with baklava or Turkish Delight or indeed buy these delicacies to take home. There are also rose, mango, saffron and cardamom ice creams and sorbets. 

Souq is a colourful addition to the Edinburgh eating scene and is perfect for any occasion. It is homespun and welcoming and will suit a wide variety of clientele as befits our Old Town. 
Meanwhile for me, there is definitely more eating to be done at Souq.  (S. Wilson)


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